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Introductions and Philosophy

(This morning we welcome a new member to the MGC family. Cedar Sanderson is a woman of many talents and she has almost as many voices talking in her head, demanding their stories be written as we do — well, maybe not as many as Sarah. Cedar will be doing Saturday posts for us. The review posts will continue once a month as well. So help us welcome Cedar and give her a warm MGC welcome.)

Hi, my name is Cedar, and I’m not sure how I ended up here… Actually, it involved Sarah and Amanda getting me alone, and with this look of glee on Amanda’s face, asking me to become the latest Mad Genius. Of course I said yes! It only dawned on me that evening that I had not asked when they wanted me to start, or what I’m supposed to say, or… ah, the details in life will get you.

I spent yesterday in the Bedford Library Writer’s Workshop with Sarah and Amanda teaching, which is an amazing experience. They pace while talking, and switch off sentences like racers with a baton. They don’t pace on the same track, but in a long figure eight like an infinity sign. And while they do that, they are pouring out the collected years of learning about writing, and even more, the business of writing.

Because writing is a business. I started writing back a few years, shortly after the birth of my first daughter, and she is fourteen now, so it has been longer than I thought. I fell in with good company, and would up part of an online writing group mentored by Sarah Hoyt and Dave Freer. At the time, I had read and loved Dave’s work, but had no idea what Sarah had written. Over the years I would correct that, but I also picked up a lot about the publishing industry listening to them, and others in Baen’s Bar. As a result, and due to life, I stopped writing much, and decided I would never try to be published.

Back in 2009, I learned one of the great writing lessons the hard way. Stress suppresses creativity. I discovered this by entering a time in life where I wasn’t as stressed and unhappy any longer, and it was like taking the lid off. I couldn’t help writing. I started writing for my children, because they were now old enough to read, and over the course of a couple of years of false starts, created Vulcan’s Kittens, a YA novel (and a bunch of short stories, but more about those later).

Now I come back to the writing is a business statement, which you thought I lost way back up there, didn’t you? For twelve years I ran a small entertainment business. I still run a spin-off of that business, which is now a micro-business. During those years, I taught myself, or took classes, how to run a business, do sales and negotiations, and marketing. As a result, when I finally decided to publish, I was already looking at writing as a business, and was rather surprised to find out how many authors do not consider themselves businessmen. I’m not unfamiliar with the concept, my other industry is full of artists who struggle with how to handle business. When I started blogging about a year ago now, I knew I would be talking about not only writing, independent publishing, but just plain and simple business.

I did decide to independently publish Vulcan’s Kittens, and my second novel Pixie Noir (which is definitely NOT a young adult title) will be released in December. My short stories are already coming to life online, with Naked Reader Press, Stonycroft Publishing, and Something Wicked. For me, the short stories are not an income source, but a fundamental business tool. I am using them as loss leaders, setting them out into the cold world as a way of getting my brand recognition started. Each of us as writers need to remember that what we are selling isn’t an individual book, series, or story. We are selling ourselves. Our name, or names if you use a penname, are our brands. The more often a reader sees that name, the more likely they are to remember it. This can be both good and bad, something I will likely discuss in a longer post, as this one is getting rather long (and the other Mad geniuses just told me I’d do fine when I asked about length).

Sarah said yesterday in the workshop that there are two possible tracks to becoming an author. One is for the affirmation, and the other is for the money. Looking at it from the business side, you could say that when an author chooses the path to affirmation, likely in the publishing industry today there will be some money, but not a lot. Also, largely, that writer will not have to deal with being a businessman. Maybe an easier road, but not, in my opinion, as satisfying a one. I took the money path, because I have a very long term goal with my writing. Sure, I want the affirmation, I love hearing people tell me they have read my work and enjoy it. But my writing is my retirement plan.

I’ve been self employed for so long, and even though I’m now in school for a career, it is highly unlikely I will ever be able to tap into the American dream (growing ever more hazy) of retiring from working and having a stream of income to count on. Unless I take care of that myself. So in thirty years, when I have some thirty to forty novels and who knows how many short stories, I will have an income. Independently publishing allows me to assure that my books will not fall out of print and as an early e-reader, I well understand the value of making DRM-free ebooks readily available.

Does this make me a hack? You betcha, and red-headed hacks unite! Now that I have met the other ones, we can form an evil writing consortium and muahaha!

Not really. My personal honor dictates that I write the best possible product for my readers, and I hope I’m succeeding there. It also means I am never going to be one of those people who says “buy my book” over and over in all the social interwebs. For one thing, that doesn’t work, except to disrupt your potential relationship with readers, and for another, I like my readers, and hate spam as much as the rest of them (unless it’s fried crispy with a little fresh pineapple).

Oh, but I will say, this one time, that I do have a blog elsewhere, and there are links to my books on it. There’s even free fiction there from time to time, as I learned at the knee of the master, Jim Baen, “the first one’s free…”


Don’t forget to check out Cedar’s Amazon page. Or check out these titles or any of her others:

51KPk8y9y7L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Vulcan’s Kittens

12-year-old Linnea Vulkane is looking forward to a long, lazy summer on Grandpa Heph’s farm, watching newborn kittens grow up and helping out with chores. That all goes out the window the night Mars, god of war, demands her grandfather abandon her and return to Olympus for the brewing war.

Now Old Vulcan is racing around the world and across higher planes with Sehkmet to gather allies, leaving Linn and an old immortal friend to protect the farm and the very special litter. But even the best wards won’t last forever, and when the farm goes up in flames, she is on the run with a daypack, a strange horse, a sword, and an armful of kittens. Linn needs to grow up fast and master her powers, before the war finds the unlikely refugees…

voya514w8kmQbyL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Voyageur’s Cap

Duty brought Lia to the backwater planet. Honor bound her to fulfill the promise she made to Daz before his death to see his daughter, Serene, safely away and enrolled at the Academy. Neither expected their trip to be interrupted by distress signals, abandoned ships and space pirates.

  1. Dan Lane #

    Congrats (or would that be condolences? *grin*) you have now been assimilated. Seriously, the Mad ones made a good choice here. I look forward to seeing what you have to say in the future.

    I also like that you folks are putting book links in the posts, too. Even though it sometimes makes the accountant side scream, having my TBR stay at a healthy size is good for the soul.

    September 28, 2013
    • Thanks, Dan! Yes, Amanda added those links, I was trying to be subtle. Guess I need to start taking notes on how to be more brash. 🙂

      September 28, 2013
      • masgramondou #

        It’s a blog by writers for readers and writers so we’re expecting to read things. Promotion here makes sense whereas (pace that post by Amanda?earlier in the week) it isn’t always so appropriate on twitter or facebook.

        I’m looking forward to reading your posts here too and maybe one of these years I’ll make it to one of these training events

        September 28, 2013
        • BobtheRegisterredFool #

          We can also just page down past the ad if we like. I’m glad I didn’t, the copy for Vulcan’s Kittens especially looks nice to me. Liked ‘Heph’ and ‘Vulkane’ in particular. The blurb for Voyageur’s Cap also looks okay, and relevant to my interests.

          September 28, 2013
        • bearcat #

          Yep, I wouldn’t mind seeing links to a few books by the posts author at the bottom of every post. Not Dave and Sarah’s whole catalogue, that would be to long, but if they rotated them around and put links to say three books at the bottom of every post they could go through their entire list twice a year. 🙂

          Now I don’t want to read an advertisement posing as a post every week, but putting some links at the bottom of the post that I can scroll right past in half a page or a page if I’m not interested/already have them just makes good marketing sense to me.

          September 28, 2013
          • Dan Lane #

            I’d be fine with a library link on a sidebar, just for general purposes. But I’m lazy like that. *grin*

            Honestly, when I first started lurking about here, I had no idea who had stuff published at all. Well, other than Sarah, whose blog led me here. For new readers that publicity can’t but be a good thing.

            September 28, 2013
            • That’s a really good point, Dan, and one I will have to see if I can help set up. You’re right, it might not be simple right now for the readers to find the regular Mad Genius’s work.

              September 28, 2013
            • This blog DOES have a sidebar/Blogroll function that currently is filled with the default WordPress links. At a minimum, it should have links to the personal blogs of all of the main posters.

              September 28, 2013
  2. Cedar, Iguess congratulations are in order. I just wanted to add that I have read both books that Amanda added, and thououghly enjoyed both. I didn’t realize Vulcan’s Kittens was YA until you mentioned it. I’ve said it before on other sites, but your voice in your works draws me right in.

    September 28, 2013
  3. Congrats. I haven’t read anything by you yet but I’m going to remedy that, once I have the time (currently my to be read pile is rather deep, several hundreds of books deep… free downloads are a curse, but I’ll get to it).

    Good covers, especially the ‘Vulcan’s Kittens’ one, by the way. Slightly off topic, but I’m currently getting some more proof about the fact that covers matter. I have two short stories on free on Amazon right now and the one which is shorter (estimated 9 pages against the 22 of the other) has been downloaded quite a bit more than the longer one. Both have only one review, but there the longer one wins too, with five stars, while the shorter has four.

    Usually people seem to prefer longer, and ones with better reviews, but the shorter story has a lot prettier cover.

    September 28, 2013
    • I am becoming convinced that covers are essential, and I need to make mine even better (although I am pleased with Vulcan’s Kittens). It’s interesting to hear that about your short story. What is the title?

      September 28, 2013
      • ‘Raven’s Night’. The less liked one is ‘After the Night Descends’. The second is a direct sequel to the first so I was trying to keep some common theme when it came to names, and since they are vampire stories ‘night’ seemed kinda obvious.

        Neither cover is all that great, but ‘After the Night Descends’ is a rather hopeless muddle while ‘Raven’s’ is at least sort of decent.

        September 28, 2013
        • Thank you, I found them. Yes, I like the cover on Raven’s Night, and the price is right 😉 Your title on Night Descends really needs to be bigger and brighter. The black and white there is sharper, too hard-edged, to my eyes.

          September 28, 2013
          • It was a photo taken during a sunny day I tried to turn to something resembling night time, and my photoshopping skills aren’t notable.

            I intend to paint something which matches the ‘Raven’s’ cover for it, and for the third story I have in that universe, but the shoulder of my dominant hand got inflamed last spring and while the pain went away after a while the damn hand remained a bit shaky for months afterwards, so I had problems drawing, or painting, even lines. Seems to be finally starting to get back to something I can paint with. 🙂

            September 28, 2013
  4. Congratulations on being the latest Mad Genius, Cedar!

    And your point about stress suppressing creativity is all too true, especially for me. Throw in being self-employed, and it’s a wonder I get anything written at all.

    September 28, 2013
  5. Eamon #

    Congrats, condolences and commiserations! I’m looking forward to the posts, as I frequently enjoy your insight in the commenting. More books to read, as well. YAY!

    September 28, 2013
  6. dougirvin #

    Congrats, Cedar. I definitely understand about stress short-circuiting creativity. We found out a few months ago that my wife has S3 Breast cancer, and since then it’s been extremely difficult for me to develop a creative mood.
    But as a (formerly, now grey & balding) redheaded writer, I’ll cheer you on.
    The world needs more mad geniuses. Look at what the ‘normals’ have done with it!

    September 28, 2013
    • Doug, I am so sorry to hear that. I hope it is going well, and will keep your family in my prayers and thoughts.

      I’m definitely not normal…

      September 28, 2013
  7. Laura M #

    Congratulations, Cedar! I read your Pixie Noir snippet, and got sucked right in. Also, Voyageur’s Cap looks to be just my cup of tea. I’m looking forward to reading it.

    September 28, 2013
    • Laura, I told you I wrote SF too…

      Cedar Sanderson
      On Sat, Sep 28, 2013 at 3:32 PM, madgeniusclub wrote:

      > ** > Laura M commented: “Congratulations, Cedar! I read your Pixie Noir > snippet, and got sucked right in. Also, Voyageur’s Cap looks to be just my > cup of tea. I’m looking forward to reading it.” >

      September 28, 2013
      • Ay – I now know not to reply to blog comments from my phone! Sorry about all that mess.

        September 28, 2013
        • bearcat #

          I was going to say at least now we all know how to contact you, but I see you edited out your phone number* 😉

          *Which I wondered why you would be posting in a comment.

          September 28, 2013
          • Unfortunately, the phone is set up to handle my business remotely, which I didn’t even think about before responding earlier.

            September 28, 2013
  8. I won’t do this often but, With nothing to say relevant to the post I’m still chiming in. Cedar is my lady and I am proud of how she is moving up in the world of writers. I instinctively started to say literary world but, this folks write stuff to be read, not displayed on a coffee table.

    P.S. Pixie Noir is better than the sample, not bias, hard evaluation

    September 28, 2013
    • Ah! She’s your redhead, but we get to borrow her Saturdays, for purposes of posting. 🙂

      September 28, 2013
  9. TXRed #

    Conga-rats, Cedar! 🙂

    September 28, 2013
  10. Dorothy Grant #

    Yay Cedar! Mad Genius is better than Evil Genius – congratulations on joining the best, most fun of the clubs!

    September 28, 2013

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  1. I am a Mad Genius | Cedar Writes
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